Opinion: The downsizing problem
The time has come to sell what’s left of the farm and move Mom to a new place in town, and I am pleased to report that everyone seems to approve of the idea. Including Mom, which is a relief. We didn’t think she was going to go for it.
The problem now is downsizing. The new place is small, and Mom has hundreds of years’ worth of stuff crammed into the old farmhouse she calls home (which is a neat trick considering she’s only lived there 50 years or so). Getting her to part with her junk has proven to be quite a task … for my brother, P.D., who lives nearby and has by default become the point man on this operation.
I tell you, there are times when I am really grateful that I decided to move away to the big city all those years ago.
P.D. has been bearing the brunt of the drama as he hauls load after load of junk out of the house. I guess you could say Mom is a bit of a packrat. No, let me amend that. Mom is a packrat, period. There’s no “bit of” about it, according to my brother, who let the pressure get to him the other day.
“Four irons!” he yelled over the telephone when I called to see how things were going.
“Ordinarily, people answer the phone with ‘Hello,’ you know,” I responded.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just that I got into a big fight with Mom because she had four old, busted irons in the basement and she wanted to save them all.”
“Oh,” I said, deliberately playing obtuse so I could see where this would lead. “You meant clothing irons. I thought you were talking about golf clubs. You know, four irons, five irons, six irons…”
“This isn’t funny,” he said. “You know those buckets cat litter comes in? Seventeen. She said she needed them for bird seed. And those plastic trays from when you get a deli tray at Kroger? Four. She pitched a fit when I threw those away. She said she was saving them. I said there wasn’t any room and she about took my head off.”
I should point out about here that Mom is moving into what amounts to a two bedroom trailer. My brother is right. Not a whole lot of room there for deli trays.
“Did I tell you about the blender?” asked P.D. “Down in the basement. It had one blade. One. She wanted to save it. She said it could be fixed.”
Now, I don’t want you thinking my mother is some sort of hoarder nutcase who can’t part with anything. It may be true, but I don’t want you thinking that.
Part of this behavior, I am sure, comes from my mother’s Depression-era childhood. And part of it, I am sure, is a response to the loss of control that this downsizing and moving operation must represent to her.
But that’s for other people to figure out. All I know is that I’m expected to be up there with my pickup to assist my brother AND bring back a load of stuff that has been set aside for me – my old Roy Rogers toybox, a cake plate, a vase I always liked, things like that. And so I’ll go, and bring it back, and wait for the day when it’s someone’s turn to downsize me.